I’ve been listening to heavy metal since 1989, which was probably at the tail end of all that “satanic panic” nonsense that ruled the 80s. Nevertheless, I still caught quite a bit of shit over the issue of my musical tastes.
Metal was and still is cathartic for me. It’s always been there, and sometimes it’s been the only thing there. It resonates with me in a way that no other musical genre ever has or ever will.
Throughout the course of my young life, adults repeatedly tried to take that outlet away from me, but they always failed, because there was never any other possible outcome.
They said it was “evil.” The imagery, the lyrics, the sounds themselves; even the Christian Metal I was into was seen as objectionable simply because of the way it sounded.
And that’s alright. I mean, hey, it’s not for everyone. I enjoyed the fact that it scared parents preachers and Sunday school teachers.
When you’re young, you’re powerless. You need an outlet to make you feel bigger than you are. Metal was mine, and still is, for the same reason; there’s no power in adulthood. People still tell you what to do. You’re still expected to shut your mouth and cram yourself into the little box that’s been prepared for you.
That primal scream of defiance that stands in solidarity with my own inner voice is still a potent weapon and a source of empowerment. The “evil” aura of the music itself, when delivered in its purest form still scares all the right people.
But what’s so evil about metal, anyway? Why are people so quick to condemn artists for making scary or violent music while applauding mass slaughter and other atrocities carried out by the hand of their own government?
We put people in prison for profit, for fuck’s sake. That’s borderline human trafficking. Why don’t they get upset about that shit?
Kids are starving, all over the world. There aren’t enough resources for everyone to get proper healthcare.
War, injustice, corruption… Everything I’ve mentioned so far has been going on far longer than metal, and was definitely going on during metal’s critics’ most active period.
That’s the world kids grow up in. That’s what they think is the status quo.
Society, unwilling to hold a mirror to itself, is compelled to look for scapegoats to rail against as a smokescreen to disguise its own seedy underbelly. Metal was one of them. Nowadays it’s video games. Point is, what’s more evil:
How about this…
Seems to me that simply talking unpleasant things is viewed by many as worse than the actual unpleasant things themselves. Doesn’t make much sense, but it’s true. Don’t stir the pot. Go with the flow. Conform.
Metal, and punk as well, have always driven a steamroller over this philosophy, and that’s why both genres were(still are to an extent)so reviled; they shit all over your preconceptions and it’s not music to you, it’s scary noise that you find intensely jarring.
As I age(40 here), I find myself welcoming a more eclectic range of artists and musical genres into my life, things I likely wouldn’t have checked out when I was 21. But metal is still king, for me. Because FUCK YOU.